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Lahore’s safe haven for dancers: In-Sync Dance Academy

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Lahore’s safe haven for dancers: In-Sync Dance Academy

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Widely enjoyed and equally criticized, dance has been a part of culture dating as far back as humankind, but there is some cultural dissonance in Pakistan regarding this art form. We love it and we love to hate it too. While it might be socially acceptable to dance at the weddings of close friends and family, pursuing dance as a full time career is still looked down upon.. Owing to a mix of certain cultural and religious sentiments dance has become a deeply stigmatized artform in Pakistan, so where can someone with passion for dance go? To a safe space like In-Sync Dance Academy.

Hafsah Haq, founder of the recently launched dance studio In-Sync stated that for her dance was a passion that initially grew behind closed doors but eventually led to the opening of a space to celebrate and learn the art, despite society’s confused sentiments attached to it.

In-Sync was a dream born to fill the gap of a safe and nurturing space for creative self expression in Pakistan. A self-taught dancer and choreographer, Hafsa braved the odds and created the space which she and her peers often wished existed. 

What dance forms can you offer to people who enroll at In-Sync? 

Currently, the dance forms I am offering are Bollywood and Hip-Hop. All the courses start at the beginners level and with time, we build them up. 

Do you have other trainers working with you at the academy?

I have dancer and choreographer, Waseem Abbas instructing the mixed/co-ed classes with me for all the courses (Bollywood, Hiphop, Shaadi). I always found his style interesting and he’s as crazy about dance as one could get. It’s his way of life. So, it’s great working and teaching with him.

What significance does dance hold for you, personally? 

That’s a heavy question and one that cannot be answered easily. Dance is my passion. And I don’t say that lightly. I’m obsessed with it. Growing up, I was always dancing in my room and experimenting with styles. I just kept looking at all the dancers in the entertainment world. 

Dancing is when I truly feel free. I let the music control my body, and I’m the happiest when I’m dancing. I would say, Hafsah and dance go hand in hand, everyone knows this. You can’t have one without the other. 

Given the negative perception of dancers in our society, are you expecting a lot of people to enroll at In-Sync?

I’m trying to change that very mindset. My aim isn’t to get maximum enrollment or make big money. My aim is to destigmatize dance and dispel the negativity around it in this society. A revolution starts off small and takes time. It has opposition, it has people that don’t understand it, and it’s risky. But a lot of things that are worth it aren’t easy. I know I will face backlash eventually. My own videos get a lot of hate, already. But if I only focus on that nothing will ever work out. Heck, I wouldn’t be here if I focused on the negativity. 

Did you face any problems while you were trying to establish this venture? Say from family, friends or peers?

Pakistani society doesn’t respect the art of dancing. My parents, initially, were not in favor of me pursuing this as a career. There were a lot of discussions and arguments over the years. The had reservations about my career path, mainly because they were worried about what other people would say or think. But I stood firm. 

I opened a two-way discussion in the house, asked for the reasoning behind their opposition to my chosen field, and then I worked to disabuse them of their notions. They saw I maintained my values while I worked as a choreographer, model and host. Eventually my parents began to understand my passion for dance, and they saw the results of my hard work, so they respect my choice and how I still maintained our core family values. 

What criticism did you face due to your career choice?

I was often told growing up that I am “too” ambitious, I call that nonsense. If a girl is practical, has things mapped out and is working towards them effectively then she isn’t “too” ambitious. And even if she is, why is that so negative.

What do you envision In-Sync will grow into?

To function as a safe space where dance can flourish. A studio and academy where you can learn dance forms like ballet, contemporary, salsa, tango, bachata, different forms of hip hop, even kpop and so much more! I want to make it grow to be something of an entity that is separate from me. A place where individuals who are passionate about dance can go to, in order to explore their interest and learn further. In-Sync will be a family. A community. A safe haven.

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